“I don’t care what people say,” Owens added. “Even though I’m 43, trust me, I’m not your average 43-year-old.”
Owens told Dickerson that there was “no question” that he could still compete in the NFL. “Even when I was 35, 36, 37, they said I was too old, but I was still ballin’ out with the 20-year-olds,” he said.
Owens claimed that he could “go out right now” and run a 40-yard dash in “4.4 [seconds].” That would be very fast for almost any NFL player, but Owens acknowledged that he might not be an “every down” performer anymore.
Owens last played in 2010, and acquitted himself well at the age of 37, catching 72 passes for 983 yards and nine touchdowns for the Bengals. Since then, he has frequently let it be known that he’d be happy to put on a helmet and cleats again, including last year, when he told one of his former teams, the Eagles, that he was “available.”
Earlier this month, Owens retweeted a post advising the Jets to pick him up in the wake of Quincy Enunwa’s season-ending injury. New York Daily News columnist Manish Mehta agreed Wednesday that the talent-poor Jets could sorely use whatever was left of Owens’s skills.
Regarding the Eagles, Owens said his biggest regret about his NFL career was the way his final of two seasons in Philadelphia played out. He made reference to “an interview” that was “taken out of context,” likely meaning an episode in April 2005 in which he said he “wasn’t the guy who got tired in the Super Bowl,” appearing to mock teammate Donovan McNabb’s performance in that year’s championship loss to the Patriots.
Owens said that “a lot of stuff spiraled out of control” after that interview, and that his tenure with the Eagles “took a turn for the worse.” That period, in which Owens held out during training camp and was subsequently suspended and deactivated by the Eagles, earned him a reputation as a divisive element in locker rooms, one that has likely been the biggest factor in his inability thus far to be enshrined in Canton.
“Here’s my position: [I want players who] contribute both individually and to the team,” former general manager Bill Polian, a Hall of Famer in his own right, said in February. “T.O.’s situation, T.O.’s temperament, his ability to contribute to the team was well known up front. He was going to be a problem. We did not want to deal with problem children.”
Owens certainly had his share of questionable incidents, in terms of his relationships with some teammates, but he’s had little of the off-field legal issues that many NFL players, including several in the Hall of Fame, have incurred. On the field, he was a major problem for opposing defenses, and it would seem that he thinks he still could be one, even at age 43.
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